After they spent the last year on a fact-finding mission across England’s coastal towns, a House of Lords select committee is urging the government to up its regeneration efforts.
Seaside towns across England “have been neglected for too long” and are in urgent need of reinvention according to a new parliamentary study.
The Future of Seaside Towns report, written by the House of Lords Select Committee on Regenerating Seaside Towns, attributes a lot of the blame to poor transport links that coastal areas have to contend with.
It identified insufficient road networks and inadequate public transport as “severely hindering” resorts’ opportunities to drive regeneration by attracting inward investment and improving their tourism economy.
The House of Lords select committee said seaside resorts should once again be“celebrated as places that can provide attractive environments for residents and visitors”.
It pointed to coastal towns like Brighton and Bournemouth as examples of resorts that have successfully reinvented themselves.
Lord Bassam of Brighton,chairman of the committee, said:“For too long, seaside towns have been neglected. They suffer from issues rooted in the decline of their core industries, most notably domestic tourism,but also in fishing, shipbuilding and port activity, and from their location at the ‘end of the line’.
“The potential impact of Brexit on these towns, particularly the hospitality sector, also remains open question.
“A single solution to their economic and social challenges doesn’t exist. What is needed is a package of strategic initiatives and interventions where national and local government work together to address issues such as transport, housing, post-school education and high-speed broadband.
“Places like Brighton and Bournemouth have shown that ‘the seaside’ can successfully reinvent itself.The Committee is confident that if our recommendations are pursued seaside towns can once again become prosperous and desirable places to live in and visit.”
The report reiterated the urgency for ministers to set out how coastal areas will benefit from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, which will replace EU funding after Brexit.
It also calls on the government to increase the amount of money made available for the Coastal Communities Fund, which provides cash for regeneration in seaside areas.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said:“The government is deter- mined to ensure our economy works for everyone and every place.
“We are on track to invest £200m in the Great British Coast by 2020 and recently announced a £36m package of support to projects in coastal communities through our Coastal Communities Fund and Coastal Revival Fund.
“We have also made a commitment to support towns to harness their unique strengths to grow and prosper through the £1.6bn Stronger Towns Fund.
“We recognise the challenges facing our seaside towns and will carefully consider the committee’s recommendations to build on the significant steps we have already taken to help coastal communities thrive.”